Richard set the book down and rubbed his forehead. They stopped at the nearest tavern to rest only to have broken up a violent confrontation between two opposing teams. It seemed that all of the Midlands knew of Richard's newest intentions. Originally they were travelling to Aydindril to help Kahlan's sister Denee restore law and order to the Midlands. Now they weren't so sure what they needed to do. Richard's plan was to take over the throne of D'hara and with Kahlan's help, unite all of the Midlands under one order, bringing peace for the first time in hundreds of years.

Richard flipped through the next page. More names. The ledger he was reading was of those who were involved in the riots that could be identified. Thankfully no one was killed, but many were seriously injured. Some had only a bruised eye, scuffed cheeks, cuts and bruises or a missing tooth as their injuries.

According to some of the men and women in the riot, one team wanted the Seeker as their D'haran ruler and others wanted to keep Lord Oswin as their ruler. Lord Oswin was appointed temporary ruler almost a year ago when Richard had to make a choice to keep the throne or risk complete anarchy. A last minute decision appointed Kennedy Oswin, a well-respected politician in the provinces of D'hara.

Richard and Kahlan had convinced him to take the title of leader temporarily. Richard had convinced the court to allow Oswin to take the throne while he quested for the Stone of Tears. After an attack from Banelings, souls who take up a bargain from the Keeper and return to the land of the living to kill, the court was convinced and allowed Oswin to take up the throne. The treaty was temporary until Richard Rahl returned to take up the throne under his name.

A knock on the door made Richard look up from the book. Kahlan had entered.

"You've been in here for hours. I was starting to get worried about you." He stood up and gave her a hug.

"I can't believe this is happening. We've just sealed the Keeper three weeks ago and there's already anarchy. I was afraid of this."

"Richard, this isn't your fault."

"I think it is. Maybe I should have gone to D'hara first before travelling to Aydindril. I could assume the throne and be done with all of this." He pointed at the ledger.

"Come on, Zedd and Cara are waiting downstairs. We are going to dine with the captain. She's going to explain to us what's been going on." Kahlan patted him on the back. Richard smiled. A warm dinner did sound good. And he'll get the answers he's been searching for

Zedd, Cara, Richard and Kahlan sat around the large circular booth across from Captain Ryan, a female elite soldier with long black hair tied in a pony tail. At the end of the tail there was a small thin black throwing blade attached; when asked about it, she smirked and said it was useful when she was surrounded. Cara was impressed.

Ryan was covered in silver-plated steel armor, with the crest of two swords clashing, the People's guard, the town's personal guards. Her long sword was strapped to her back and she had a dagger at her waist.

Zedd dug his hands into his food before the plate was even set on the table. The others waited while Captain Ryan retold the story.

"These riots have started since word came about that the Seeker would be taking over the throne of D'hara. Is it true, Seeker?"

"Call me, Richard, Captain Ryan." Richard smiled.

"Very well, Richard."

"Yes, it's true that I was going to take over the throne. We were heading to Aydindril first to restore law and order to the Midlands before I took over the throne. This way we could unite all of D'hara and the Midlands under one rule. Maybe I should have travelled to D'hara first."

Captain Ryan nodded. She took a hearty swig of her ale before she pointed a finger at Richard. "The people have started fearing you, Richard. That is what's causing these frequent riots. It's getting to the point where we're keeping five people to a cell. Our jails are filling up so fast we don't know what we're going to do if there's another riot."

"They're fearing me again? I thought I would've gained their trust when I defeated Darken Rahl and after defeating the Keeper." He huffed.

"It's your name. It's your blood line that has separated people." Ryan explained.

"The Rahl name is what's separating the loyalty of the people to Richard." Zedd said it with a mouthful of food.

"Could you swallow your food before you speak, Wizard?" Cara rolled her eyes, "It doesn't matter what name he uses; Rahl, Cypher, Zorander. These names are part of Richard, who is the true heir of D'hara. Not that fat politician."

"Cara, we trust him on the throne." Kahlan said.

"I don't. I trust Richard. Not the fill-in."

"We appointed Lord Oswin because of his extensive background in politics. He was also the most trusted man within that court." Kahlan explained.

Richard thought about his situation. People don't just fight over names; it seemed too petty to have riots over such a thing. There was something else to it. Half of his blood was Zorander, the blood of a long line of Wizards. And his other half was Rahl, son of Panis Rahl, heir to the throne of D'hara after the death of Darken Rahl. Maybe they were afraid?

That had to be it. People were afraid of him becoming a tyrant like his brother. They were afraid he would abuse his power and enslave everyone like Darken Rahl had. But why couldn't they see him as the Seeker and not a tyrant? He didn't want to be a tyrant. He cared for his people, the same people he fought so hard to protect.

And then it clicked; wizard's first rule: people will believe a lie because they fear it is true, or they were afraid it was true. They were afraid that if he assumes the throne he could be a tyrant. That's why there were riots.

"I know why they are afraid." All eyes were on Richard, "They are afraid that I will become a tyrant like Darken Rahl because of my Rahl bloodline. They want Lord Oswin on the throne because he has become a trusted leader in D'hara. The people don't want another tyrant."

"But, Richard, you could never be a tyrant. You proved that by defeating Darken Rahl and sealing the Keeper back into the underworld." Kahlan comforted him.

Captain Ryan swallowed her food, "If it makes you feel any better, Richard, I vote for you on the throne. You have saved all of us twice. We owe you our gratitude. Now that the Keeper is not a problem, the people have gone back to being scared about petty little things. You've proved to us you could not be any one else but the Seeker, our savior."

Richard felt a little better, "Thank you, Captain Ryan. But I'm afraid this might be a bit more challenging than I thought. If I haven't won the people over by our last two quests, then I will never win them over."

"You can't please everyone, my boy," Zedd put down his mug of ale down, "Be there a tyrant on the throne or not, people will remain unhappy. What matters is that we show the people you won't be a tyrant. For that to happen we need to change directions to D'hara. It's possible that the longer we delay the more trouble we will get." Zedd foresaw.

"Very well. In that case, why not spend the night in town and leave in the morning? I will provide you with provisions and anything you may need for the journey." Captain Ryan said.

"Alright. Then we rest up for tonight and leave in the morning. We have to get Richard to the Palace of the Prophets. From there, Richard can assume the throne and we can stop the fighting." Cara explained.

"It may not be that easy, but if Richard's on the throne then it should be easier to stop the fighting. Richard would have his battalions to handle the messy business. Then his next mission would be to bring peace to D'hara and the rest of the Midlands." Captain Ryan spoke her opinion.

"First thing in the morning, we leave to set things right. Captain Ryan," Richard patted the woman on the shoulder, "Thank you for everything you have done for us."

"No need to thank me, Richard. The faster you get yourself on the throne, the more space I'll have in my dungeons." She sipped her ale.

Cara smiled, "I like this woman…"

Samuel stared at the reflection of light coming from the castle hidden in the Rang'Shada Mountains. The castle was big enough to house an entire village and still have room for guests. But they weren't an inn; it was a private fortress for them and only them. The sun was at its highest peak once the light glittered from the castle walls. Small crystals that could fit in the palm of one's hand littered the bricks of the castle. A truly magnificent sight no one would ever have the luxury of taking in.

Samuel turned from the sight and headed towards the fountain where his mistress saw the future, past and present. Her magic was the strongest when the sun reached its peak. He loved to watch his mistress witness what was going on around them. She told him everything she had seen.

Holes in the top of the cavern let light in. By night his Mistress had enchanted torches to light their way.

He approached the fountain where his mistress stood. Samuel wore leather armor turned dark with age. A sword was strapped to his back with a reflecting shine to it. His hands were covered in dried mud and dust; it was his job to keep the place as hidden as possible. To do that, he hid the entrances with mud and grass. His chin was covered in stubble leading up to his ears. His black eyes admired the beauty of his mistress.

Once he approached the fountain, he saw her lift a wooden bowl she used to see her visions. With ceremoniously careful hands she lifted the bowl from the water and let the drops of water drip back down to the pool. When they stopped dripping she took a deep breath and focused her power inside her. She opened her eyes and tilted the bowl towards herself and let the water fall. The water leveled out resembling a crystal screen.

"What do you see, Shota?" He asked, his croaky voice echoing softly in the cavern walls.

Shota was a woman with brilliant auburn wavy hair and amber eyes. Her hair had a sleek shine to it as if she had just bathed. Her porcelain face shined in the light reflecting off the castle in the distance. Her ruby red lips parted to let in a breath of air. She acknowledged Samuel while she watched the visions dance in her mind.

Samuel held his breath, careful not to distract his mistress. He watched her beautiful pale face as her eyes became distant, and she gave herself over to these visions.

She was so beautiful; he was glad she picked him to be her guardian. He was not happy when that stupid wizard Zedd stole the Sword of Truth from him but his mistress said he was destined for great things if he stuck with her. So here he was, forever infatuated with his mistress. He hoped one day he could make his mistress proud.

A gasp from Shota made him jump. Shota never gasped; something was wrong in her visions.

She saw the stone in the palace of the prophets; a new prophecy being written by the creator herself. An even more morbid prophecy was written. Shota saw it; her mind memorized the events of the past that led to the recent present. And then she saw what was to come.

With a cry she dropped the bowl and leaned forward, her hands gripped the fountain leaning over it. The reflection of light showed her horrified face. Her breaths were quick and ragged like she just ran a mile.

"Shota, what did you see?" A worried Samuel approached Shota. He hesitated touching her but when he touched her arm she did not pull away.

"Mistress, please. You need to rest." Taking her gently to a nearby bench made from the roots of a pine, he sat her down.

This was the first time Samuel had ever seen Shota so shaken from her visions. Not even when she foretold the Seeker's death did she get this scared. Something was terribly wrong.

"Shota?" He asked again, shaking her back to reality.

"Oh, Samuel… I saw the most horrifying vision you could imagine. I saw our destruction and our end."

"But, Mistress, the Keeper is defeated. He is sealed in the underworld for all eternity." He tried to comfort her.

"No." She shook her head. "This vision had no Keeper of the Underworld but an old forgotten enemy, one not mentioned in history. One I don't recognize, but I know this enemy will lead to our destruction."

She placed her head in her hands and took deep, shaky breaths to calm down.

"There is a new prophecy, Samuel. One that described what will happen. From this prophecy I saw the vision of the past, the present and the future."

"Tell me, Mistress. Why are you so scared?" Anything that scared her was something that he should fear.

"The prophecy says, 'The Seeker will uncover the gift of the creator, and the Mother Confessor will uncover the taint of the Keeper. Both gift and taint will be mended into one. The Seeker, in order to preserve all life, must destroy both gift and taint or the world will be devoured by darkness and be remade in the image of the one wielding the taint.' Samuel, I think this may be our end."

"No, Mistress. Please don't say that." His voice wavered. This sounded so bad, but he would protect his Mistress no matter what.

"Samuel, I told Zeddicus that he needed to name a new Seeker. Why doesn't that old buffoon ever listen?" She complained.

"Samuel. We must warn Zedd; we have to tell him about this prophecy. This is too dire for us to sit idle and do nothing. My visions are never wrong, and the Seeker is going to need all the help he can get if he is to defeat this new threat."

Shota started walking but stopped abruptly, "I don't know what I will do if Zeddicus refuses to listen. If he fails to listen then we must be the ones who will lead the Seeker one step ahead of the enemy."

"Do—do we have to see him? Can't we just send him a message?" He asked her. He was scared of Zeddicus, the one who stole the Sword of Truth. Zedd was still angry at him because he was chosen to be her protector. He knew Zedd was in love with Shota, but she chose him. He was happy about it, but he was still afraid of the wizard.

"No, Samuel. We must go warn him because only the Seeker will have the power to unite the world against this threat. And he will need our help too."

They stepped outside, their small palace within the mountain. Shota fell in love with the palace and made it hers, hidden in Agaden Reach. Many feared her home because of her powerful magic. She was a powerful sorceress and seer, feared and respected by many. The people even gave her a name that sent shudders down their spine; Witch Woman. Actually, if she remembered correctly, Zedd started that little trend.

No one bothered with her, but some who dared to enter return home frightened and traumatized. If they thought she was a joke, she would show them their worst nightmares. She was no joke; she was a woman to be feared.

She turned her head to the sky. Clouds of various shapes and sizes were scattered all over the bright blue heavens. She chanted and waved a hand back and forth; the sound of thunder clapped and shook the ground. She raised her voice, calling out for Zedd and then she shot her hand out and a clap of lightning scattered the clouds and morphed them. They swirled around the sky and finally slowed down. Almost every cloud continued to move around except for one.

She pointed, "There is our dear old friend, Zeddicus. Come Samuel, we leave at once. Over the mountains and across the river will we meet the great Wizard of the First Order."

The couple travelled for two days and crossed two rivers. They found Zeddicus after crossing the hills by a stream of clear water. He stood in the shade of a great oak tree. They approached him and Samuel hid behind his mistress; he tried to make himself as small as possible and hope to the spirits above that Zedd wouldn't see him.

Zedd, with his back to the couple sensed their approach, "I knew it could only be you, Shota. No one else knows how to look for me using the clouds."

"Clouds were your favorite thing, old man. Do you still read them?"

"Every day." He turned to the group nursing a baby rabbit with a bite taken off its back. The baby rabbit vibrated in pain; it would die soon.

Zedd reached down at his feet and pulled out an Aum plant. The plant had a thick stem with three leaves of five points. The juice of the Aum plant could heal mild wounds and injuries. Many healers, priests and alchemists used the plant to heal the sick. The Aum plant could be made into tea to combat sicknesses and the juice could heal abrasions and mild punctures. It was an extremely valuable plant.

Zedd bit the roots off and spit out the plant. He squeezed the plant and a few drops of the juice dripped unto the bleeding rabbit's injury. It shuddered violently and settled. Most of the bleeding had stopped and a good bit of flesh had grown back. Zedd chanted a spell and closed his eyes. Healing this type of injury would take some stamina from him, but it would be worth it. The rabbit kicked and moved in his hand, but he made sure it wouldn't fall off.

Shota waved her hands over the rabbit as well, the two chanting in unison. Sparkles of light swirled around the wizard and the sorceress, then to the rabbit, coating it. The two stopped chanting once they felt no more pull from their magic and took quick breaths. The rabbit uncurled itself and open up its tiny black eyes. It seemed grateful for what the two did. It twitched its nose to the both of them.

Zedd put the rabbit down on the ground. The rabbit turned to the two and gave another twitch before jumping back into its burrow.

"I have done my good deed for the day. I cannot wait to go back to the palace and eat a nice juicy leg of mutton." He beamed.

"I see you still have your unstoppable hunger," she gave a small smile, "Listen, Zeddicus. I have something dire to share with you. There is a new prophecy involving Richard and Kahlan. If it comes to pass they will need all of our help."

Zedd's face dropped, "Bags, Shota! Is that all you came here to do? Tell me prophecies over a cup of tea?"

"This is no joke, Zeddicus. There is a prophecy and from that prophecy I saw the events of time. And I saw the end of it all. Believe me, Zeddicus. Once it comes to pass, we will all need to be there to help the Seeker. This threat is even greater than the Keeper himself."

"Dear Spirits, what could be worse than the Keeper himself?" Zedd wondered aloud.

"This threat has always been here but it has been forgotten to save us. Or maybe in doing so it has brought our now inevitable end."

"Inevitable end? Shota, what are you talking about?" He rolled his eyes, "Is this another one of your riddles?"

Shota shook her head no, "Here me, Zeddicus. This prophecy may very well be our last if this threat cannot be stopped. 'The Seeker will uncover the gift of the creator and the Mother Confessor will uncover the taint of the Keeper. Both gift and taint will be mended into one. The Seeker, in order to preserve all life, must destroy both gift and taint or the world will be devoured by darkness and be remade in the image of the one wielding the taint.' "

"Bags, what does it mean?" He cursed to himself.

"It means exactly as you have heard it. Richard and Kahlan will bring forth a threat the likes we have never seen since the beginning of the ancient wizards."

She paused to let the information sink in before she continued, "I had warned you before, Zeddicus. You should have named a new Seeker of Truth long ago."

Zedd tensed up, "I did what you asked me! I named Leo as the Seeker of Truth and look what happened to him! He died when we retrieved Richard from the Palace of the Prophets!"

"Then you should have named another," She replied. Zedd glared. She continued, "Did you think that my warning would stop at Leo's death? You should have named another once he died."

Zedd couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You would ask me to name another when we rescued Richard?"

"Yes. And if that other Seeker died, then you name another. And another. Perhaps if you had done that, we wouldn't be in this mess. Richard and Kahlan are bound to find a gift and taint."

Zedd cursed under his breath and paced back and forth, Shota could sense why he was angry and now she understood.

"Zeddicus, I understand you want your grandson to continue the line as Seeker of Truth, but this pride has cost us dearly."

Zedd stopped, "Naming him Seeker of Truth was not a work of pride! I chose him because he has passed the test others failed. I did not want him to be the Seeker but he showed me he was capable of handling it. He has the heart of a true Seeker, not like the one you have hiding behind your back!"

Samuel whimpered and tried to make himself smaller behind his mistress. That one stung her a bit. She wanted Samuel to be hers so she could control the Seeker but that had failed. Regardless, she tried to hide the bitter feelings she still felt about that.

"Very well, Zeddicus. I do not disagree with your choice, but perhaps it would have been better if another had taken his place." There was a moment of silence between them, "Perhaps if Leo had survived this new prophecy might have not had been written. Leo, too, had the heart of a true Seeker. It's a shame you didn't name him first."

"As the Seeker, Richard stopped Darken Rahl and the Keeper. Now he fights to unite all of D'hara under his rule. He is going to save many. He was supposed to stop the tyranny that Darken Rahl and Panis Rahl and those before him started. A world where the leader of D'hara cared for his people."

"He is also going to kill many more if he continues this path. Zeddicus, please," she begged, "heed my warnings. If naming a new Seeker is not an option then do not allow Richard and Kahlan to go seeking these objects. Or they will bring about our destruction."

She turned from Zedd, "Come, Samuel. We must prepare to help the Seeker out, because the inevitable is that Richard and Kahlan will bring about our own destruction."

"Do you have so little faith in Richard?"

She stopped and turned her head to look at him, "No, I have too much faith in my visions. They always come to pass. You yourself know this truth, Zeddicus. We were together once. You know my powers. You do not need a Confessor to tell you I'm telling you the truth."

Shota waved goodbye to Zedd and turned away from him, "Come, Samuel!"

Samuel turned to glance at Zedd. The wizard shook his head, disappointed in the man. He had warned Samuel not to travel to Agaden Reach, but still he did. It was Samuel's pride that caused him to be bewitched by Shota. The woman had cursed him to serve her until his dying breath. He had become just a pawn to her, a pet. There was no helping Samuel now. He was lost to her spells.

Samuel sagged his shoulders, an action that almost took Zedd by surprise. Samuel stood up straight and turned away from Zedd, shoulders hunched, looking like someone guilty of a crime.

"Poor fool." Zedd muttered. He looked up the skies. Why couldn't things just be simple for once? Now he was going to be thinking about Shota's prophecy throughout the day. To make things worse his hunger suddenly vanished; replaced by a growing pain in his stomach. He was worried now about this new prophecy. Things just couldn't get worse from here…

Darken Rahl walked around Nicci chained up to the post. Her nearly naked body was covered in cuts, bruises, sweat, and blood. Darken Rahl had worn a vest but he took it off midway through his training with Nicci. His broad shoulders and tight abdomen glistened with his sweat and her blood. His dark hair fell down to his shoulders. His face and beard were sticky with her blood, a satisfying thought to him.

Nicci only wore a loincloth around her waist, the rest of her body bare, bruised and weak. Time always flew by when he was training his pet. Nicci sobbed; she no longer knew the difference between sobbing and gasping. It all mended into one.

Her arms were tied up by restraints attached to the pole behind her back. One eye was swollen and closed; her cheeks were puffed up from the physical assault. Her mouth bled and her lips were cut. Her breasts moved with her rapid, panicked breathing. Her wrists were bleeding from the restraints digging into her flesh. Her legs were bent over, too weak to hold herself up anymore.

The Rada'han acted like a choker around her neck. This collar was used to keep wizards and sorcerers from using their magic, trapping the magic in their bodies. The magic couldn't be released with the Rada'han on; as such wizards couldn't cast spells. Nicci obtained Richard's Han, his magic, in the Palace of the Prophets when she tricked him into willingly giving her his Han to escape his prison.

Darken Rahl kept the collar on her. It was a constant reminder that she was his pet. Master Rahl had told Nicci she had been there a few weeks, but she didn't remember when she arrived. She was slowly losing her memories, her sanity. There was no hope for her. She was stuck there until Master Rahl was finished with her training.

Darken Rahl tapped the Agiel against his palm. Pain flashing through his arm turned to adrenaline; the more he tapped the torture instrument to his palm, the more excited he became.

"I want to hear you scream." He ordered and poked the sensitive flesh of her bruised ribs. The chains rattled, her bare feet slid against the floor from the sweat and blood, trying to pull herself up. She saw specks of red and yellow light in her vision. She shook violently, screaming with all her might.

Darken Rahl pulled back the Agiel as Nicci continued to scream. Her voice was hoarse and tired. She coughed and sobbed. There was nothing she could do but take whatever torture Darken Rahl had to give her.

"I want you to beg me to stop."

Nicci whimpered and shook her head no. She was tired. She wanted to be home, a different home than this place. A home where she felt safe and secure… If Master Rahl could hear her thoughts she was done for… No, death wasn't an option. The Mord'Sith outside could revive her with the breath of life. Death was never an option and she wished to the Keeper himself that it was.

He walked behind her and found a good place to poke his pet, "Beg. Now." He jabbed the Agiel behind her neck. Nicci shot forward, her feet kicking and sliding against the floor. She stopped struggling, feeling something warm shoot out of her mouth. She saw little stars and the pounding of her head, her vision blacking out around the edges.

The words were being forced out of her mouth before she even thought about it.

"Please! Master Rahl, stop!" She sobbed. The pain stopped when he pulled his hand away.

"I am very pleased with you, Nicci, my pet. You have come a long way. It shouldn't be too much longer before you pledge your undying, unconditional loyalty and love to me." He hummed as he thought about it, "How you'll surrender your body and please your master even the most profane desire."

Nicci could only hear bits and pieces; her head hurt so much it was like it was being squeezed by a vice.

Darken Rahl licked the tip of his fingers and rubbed it on his lips. "That completes your training, my pet. You deserve your bath for today. I want you clean for some time alone, later this evening. And you will cooperate."

"Sister Belevich! Sister Albina!" He called out. The door opened to reveal two Mord'Sith wearing blood red leather.

The first Mord'Sith, Sister Belevich, wore her black hair tight in a long pony tail reaching midway down her spine. The other wore blond hair in dreadlocks that covered the nape of her neck.

"Yes, Master Rahl?" The two spoke in unison, grinning at the bloody scene before them. They knew Rahl had fun with Nicci today, Sister Belevich, the youngest recruit, was impressed by Darken Rahl's skills using an Agiel. She hoped to learn from him.

"Release Nicci and draw her a nice, warm bath." He stressed the last part of the sentence and the two women returned him a naughty, knowing smile.

Darken Rahl walked out of the room and the two sisters released the wrist and ankle restraints from the pole. Nicci collapsed to the floor with a gasp. She unconsciously rubbed her wrists, heat flaring her wrists as her hands touched the open flesh.

The two sisters walked out without a word and slammed the door behind them.

The cold stone floor felt welcoming and strangely comfortable to Nicci. She didn't think they would mind if she just closed her eyes for a few minutes…

A quick jab with the Agiel startled Nicci awake.

"I did not say you could sleep, Nicci. Get up. We've drawn you a bath…" He grinned. He loved saying that. He would repeat it every time.

He all but dragged her body to the bathing room. When they arrived he made her stand upright in front of the pool of steaming hot water. Nicci knew that the water was scalding hot.

Darken Rahl reached down and dropped her loincloth to the floor. Nicci, out of habit kicked it off.

He leaned in closer to her ear and gave her a kiss on the cheek, "Enjoy your bath, Nicci. The water's nice."

In one swift motion he grabbed her hair, pulled her head back and shoved her into the pool of hot water.

Nicci screamed as she was pushed into an inferno. Fire spread throughout her entire body. Pricks of hot needles poked every part of her. She kicked and thrashed from the intensity of the heat. She swam to the edge and put her arms out unto the cool tile. She did not dare get out of the pool; Darken Rahl would surely punish her. Darken Rahl watched her struggle for a few moments longer before retreating back to his chambers.

Once he slammed the door closed, Nicci got out of the water and lay on her back. She noticed a Mord'Sith watching her with her arms crossed and a cautioning look on her face.

That was Sister Lily. A Mord'Sith who was ordered to watch her to make sure she didn't leave the room. Lily could care less if she was out of the pool. To her, Nicci was Darken Rahl's pet. She couldn't expect a pet to do as they were told all the time. As long as she didn't leave the room, she didn't care what she did in that room.

Once the water cooled a considerable amount she stepped back into the pool. A cloud of red began to darken the water. Her cuts burned as they were reintroduced to the water. With a bar of soap and a wash cloth she began to bathe herself.

Her normal bathing procedure began with her meticulously washing every cut and bruise. She began counting the cuts and bruises. Eight bruises, three abrasions, two small cuts and one bump to her body.

She realized her injuries were considerably less than the week before. She thought about what she was doing differently. For one, she no longer fought Darken Rahl, but let him do as he pleased to her body. She also began following his orders without complaint. Perhaps she was in the wrong this whole time?

That was it! If she could behave for Darken—Master Rahl, he might beat her less. She brightened at the thought of no longer having to endure the pain of the Agiel. She remembered that Darken Rahl wanted her in bed later today. She hurried up and cleaned herself to please him. Maybe if she pleased him tonight, tomorrow might come with less torture. It was definitely worth a shot. Anything to stop with the Agiel… it hurt her so much to be touched by the Agiel… But that was going to stop soon because she was going to please her Master tonight.